Professors Michael Perlin, Eva Szeli, Deborah Dorfman, Karen Owen Talley, Lisa Schatz-Vance, Richard Friedman and Keri Gould
is the gateway to all mental disability law courses as it provides a
comprehensive look at many of the issues that will be considered at
greater length in the more specialized classes, and provides the basic
doctrines fundamental to the understanding of mental disability law.
Students will examine the civil and constitutional bases of mental
disability law in such areas as civil commitment; institutional rights
(with specific focus on the right to refuse treatment); and
deinstitutionalization, aftercare, and federal statutory rights (with
specific focus on the Americans with Disabilities Act). Students will
explore the role of mental disability in the criminal trial process,
including criminal incompetencies; insanity defense; sexually violent
predator laws; federal sentencing guidelines; and the death penalty.
Students will also study the history of mental disability law and why and
how it has developed as it has; and most importantly, why judges and fact
finders decide mental disability law cases the way they do, to facilitate
our predictions of future trends and outcomes. For master’s degree
and certificate students, this is a core requirement which must be taken
in the first semester.